Posts tagged “art tatum”

Features » Historic Journalism

Art Tatum on 52nd Street

In this entertaining short excerpt from Arnold Shaw’s 1971 homage to the jazz clubs of New York,  52nd Street:  The Street that Never Slept, Ralph Watkins, owner of legendary New York City clubs like Kelly’s Stable, the Royal Roost (the famed chicken restaurant nicknamed the “Metropolitan Bopera House” due to it being near the Metropolitan Opera House) and Bop City, remembers the blind pianist Art Tatum:

“The 52nd St. performer that stands out in my mind is Art Tatum, above everyone else.  Not only his musicianship but the fire in him.  He had a way when he was annoyed.  When people were talking during his playing, he’d stand up, bang the piano shut, stare in their direction, and tell them off:  ‘Quiet, you

[…] Continue reading »

Uncategorized

Great Encounters #39: When Al Hibbler hustled coin while playing with Art Tatum

“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of how the singer Al Hibbler would entice audience members to throw coins on the floor during his time playing with the great pianist Art Tatum.

Excerpted from Too Marvelous for Words: The Life and Genius of Art Tatum by James Lester

__________

The first time I met Art was here in New York. First time I met him I was working with [Jay] McShann, and there was a afterhours place — Clark Monroe, Monroe’s Uptown House, and — so I’m singing over at Monroe’s — […] Continue reading »

Literature

“Tatum” — a poem by Michael Harper

I have recovered from your blindness
so fast your arpeggios

the world of Toledo is in slow motion
for you are holding back

from all your classical training
the image of Fats Waller frozen

in the blows that forced darkness
into cranial blows irreversible

[…] Continue reading »

Features

Great Encounters #15: The 1931 evening that Art Tatum dazzled Harlem pianists Fats Waller and James P. Johnson

Excerpted from Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Story of Fats Waller by Ed Kirkeby.

In 1931 a pretty definite pattern of jazz in New York had come into being. Big and small bands held sway at countless nightspots, and most of the big names were in the Big City to stay. Not a lot of new talent was coming along, though bandsmen such as Chick Webb, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and John Kirby — even if not yet in their full stride — were fast becoming known in and around New York music circles. The original crop of jazzmen who nursed the art from its swaddling clothes
[…] Continue reading »